Prep Football

Iowa high school football rewind: West Liberty and Lisbon hook up at very last second to play

Opponents cancel on them because of COVID-19 on Friday afternoon, yet schools get together for Friday night game

West Liberty's Gavin Chown (center) yells as he celebrates with teammates after their district high school football win
West Liberty’s Gavin Chown (center) yells as he celebrates with teammates after their district high school football win over the Tipton Tigers at City Park Stadium in Tipton, Iowa, on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. West Liberty won 14-13. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — There is nothing more appropriate to describe 2020 prep football. Nothing even close.

West Liberty and Lisbon played a game Friday night at West Liberty that the Comets won, 14-12. But the score wasn’t the story here.

Not at all. Let’s start from the beginning.

About 1:45 Friday afternoon, Lisbon head coach Phil Whitman was informed by his activities director, Eric Ries, that North Cedar had just called and canceled the teams’ game Friday night because of a COVID-19 situation.

Roughly a half-hour earlier, West Liberty AD Adam Loria had walked into Comets head coach Jason Iske’s classroom to tell him about a a phone call Loria had just received from Tipton, canceling their game at the last minute for the same reason.

“It was an oh-boy moment,” Iske said. “You hear all the stories going around about games getting canceled, but you just don’t really expect it to happen to you. My first reaction was ‘Well, can we get a game?’”

“I looked at the eyes of a couple of our seniors when I told them we didn’t have a game, and you could just see it was ‘Are you kidding me?’” Whitman said. “When I saw that, that hit me, and I felt like I wanted to try and give them every opportunity I could to play a game.”

Ries and Loria hopped back on their phones and called around, eventually getting in touch with each other. By roughly 2:15, they had agreed to play at West Liberty in approximately five hours.

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“We’re playing at home, so I’ve got to immediately scramble around and get everything set up on the game field,” Iske said. “We had some parents come through, got off work and came down and painted the field and everything quick. All of my coaches are huddling in my room about 3 or 3:30 just trying to cram some film in to throw together some sort of idea about what we should do.”

Oh, yeah, game plans. These schools had prepped all week for teams they weren’t going to play and suddenly had to put together something, however rudimentary, to help their kids know about their brand new opponent.

Thank god for Hudl.

“One of the comments that was made was that this was like going into a JV game,” Whitman said. “You just didn’t know what you were going to get.”

Lisbon players were able to watch some video on West Liberty on their bus ride to Muscatine County.

“It was nuts. You went from doing nothing to rushing to get things ready to go to West Liberty,” Whitman said. “It all worked out, it was a good game, I thought both teams played well and played hard. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. But it was an opportunity to do something for the kids.”

West Liberty got the winning points midway through the fourth quarter on a 75-yard halfback pass for touchdown from Jahsiah Galvan to Sam Gingerich.

“It was lucky for us, and I hope they think it was lucky for them, too, to play that game,” Iske said. “These kids want to play, and it’s unfortunate the things that are going around outside of them. High school is special, and the opportunity to play those high school sports, Friday night lights and all that, don’t happen for long. To get that game was definitely meaningful and important to a lot of people.”

North Tama airs it out

North Tama won its first game of the season Friday night, 29-12, over North Mahaska. Successful passing played a major role.

Junior quarterback Gabe Kopriva completed 17 of 26 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns. The yardage total is the second highest all-time in a game for NT.

Devin McKinley also completed a halfback pass for 60 yards for the Redhawks, with the 364 Kopriva/McKinley combined passing yards setting the school’s team record for a game. North Tama is 1-3.

Cullen McShane with insane performance

Class A No. 9 MFL MarMac shook off a tough, one-point loss last week to No. 4 Wapsie Valley by burying Clayton Ridge, 34-14, Friday night.

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Junior Cullen McShane was all over the place, rushing 15 times for 355 yards and three touchdowns. The math there tells you his per-carry average was a cool 23.7.

McShane also had 8.5 tackles, six solos. That included a sack and two tackles for loss.

For giggles, he returned a kickoff 32 yards and punted three times for a 35-yard average.

Kennedy, Linn-Mar to return after quarantine

Two Metro teams are scheduled to get back onto the field this week after serving COVID-19 quarantine time.

Cedar Rapids Kennedy actually came off its two-week quararantine Saturday but could not find an opponent to play it. The Cougars are scheduled to play Friday night at Dubuque Hempstead.

Linn-Mar also is slated to return, playing a Saturday afternoon game at Cedar Rapids Prairie. That game was pushed back a day to let Linn-Mar’s quarantine to expire.

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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